This is a wordy but oh so fitting moniker for Shayne O'Neill's music, as the Future Kings of Nowhere perfectly captures the insouciant grandness he aspires to, with the self-deprecating twist that is the secret to his success. Actually, the secret to his success is summed up best on "I'm Still Waiting": "Take my quick observations and my questions and my poor explanations and wrap them up into rhymes. Weave them around my mouth, suffer me up into brilliance, until no-one doesn't know my name." With a sharp eye for mundane details, a wry wit, and an occasional ironic twist, the Future King and his cortege of guesting alterno-royalty take a royal trip around O'Neill's ragtag inner realm. Along the way there are amends to make, specifically on "Paper Napkins," an apology to the ex-girlfriend who's been the foil of the singer's many breakup songs. Perhaps "Never" describes their relationship, "Like a Staring Contest" their "trainwreck of an ending," but surely not the girl who did a runner and addressed in a folksy letter from home on "C Is for Heartache." There again, when you entangle yourself with women with a history of "high speed chase, no dialogue," as O'Neill does on "I Want You," it's no wonder problematic relationships make up the bulk of this set.
Blues rocker Tinsley Ellis knows where his bread is buttered and bakes up a loaf of it on his first album of original material since 2004's The Hard Way. Best known for fiery shows as evidenced by 2006's terrific Live! Highwayman, Ellis' explosive combination of R&B, blues and rock clicks on this rugged set. He roars through the riff-driven "Somebody" and the double entendres of "Bringin' Home the Bacon" like the pro he is, whipping off muscular solos that never overstay their welcome. "Get to the Bottom" and "Too Much of Everything" tackle the unfortunate results of living life in the fast lane, something he likely knows plenty about after spending a few decades on tour. Ellis works in a Stones styled mid-tempo rocker on "Tell the Truth" (not the Derek & the Dominos song), a tightly written gem aided immensely by fellow Atlanta musician Michelle Malone on backing vocals. The guitarist obviously loves his wah-wah pedal, which brings a Cream-like psychedelic swamp edge to tracks such as "Too Much of Everything".